Michelle Rhee's biggest foray yet into local politics in California yielded mixed results yesterday as voters in West Sacramento rejected the school board candidate backed by her education advocacy group while voters in Los Angeles handed a victory to one of the three candidates StudentsFirst supported.
Rhee, the former chancellor of Washington, D.C., schools who is married to Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, created StudentsFirst to counter the power of teachers unions in state and local politics.
The group formed a campaign committee that supported Francisco Castillo for school board in Washington Unified, the West Sacramento school district. Castillo works as a spokesman for StudentsFirst. Voters in West Sac elected Sarah Kirby-Gonzalez, who was backed by the local teachers union.
StudentsFirst also supported three candidates for the Los Angeles Unified school board: Mónica García, Kate Anderson and Antonio Sanchez. García won the race for District 2, Anderson lost the race for District 4 and Sanchez is headed to a May 21 run-off against Monica Ratliff for District 6.
"Last night's outcome underscores the importance of the ongoing effort to elevate teaching, empower parents and implement reforms that are in the best interest of our students," Rhee said in a statement.
In last month's school board race in the Los Angeles city of Burbank, two StudentsFirst-backed candidates -- Charlene Tabet and David Dobson -- earned spots on the April 9 run-off ballot.
PHOTO CREDIT: Frontline file, 2007, "The Education of Michelle Rhee"